A change of name and a change of school ethos
It is all change at a Wigan secondary school hoping to climb the league tables with a new name and outlook.
Dean Trust Wigan, formerly Abraham Guest Academy, is hoping for success after joining a region-wide group of schools.
The organisation is bringing its no-nonsense philosophy of good discipline, a strong curriculum, strict behaviour expectations and improving exam results to the Greenhey school after initially working with staff and pupils as a sponsor.
Sweeping changes are afoot with a new traditional uniform being introduced in September and re-branding and refurbishment work taking place throughout the buildings over summer.
However, the leadership team is remaining the same with head teacher Paul Bousfield, who initially suggested becoming part of The Dean Trust, looking forward to leading the school into a new era and the governors enthusiastically behind the move.
Prospective pupils and their families have already been given an indication of what to expect at a recent open evening and Mr Bousfield said the response there was also extremely positive.
Mr Bousfield said: “Dean Trust Wigan is very proud to now be part of The Dean Trust’s family of schools.
“Support from the Trust will allow us to continue our journey of school improvement and further enhance our offer to the local community.
“We received great feedback following our open evening last week, which was well attended by families from the local area and beyond.”
Abraham Guest Academy was originally partnered with Winstanley College but The Dean Trust started working with it after it was suggested that a group specialising in secondary-level education would be helpful.
CEO Tarun Kapur said the group’s first visit to the borough was such a positive experience that it wasn’t long before a more permanent connection between the school and Trust was on the cards.
Mr Kapur said: “We’re not a predatory organisation and didn’t go into the school with any desire to take it over but we began working so closely and successfully that the governors and our trustees agreed it was a good fit to have the school within the group.
“Every member of staff who went to Abraham Guest said it was a great place and would fly because people there were so responsive. That gives you a good feeling about a place.
“The school itself came up with being named Dean Trust Wigan and the children liked it immediately. People were using it even before it had become official.
“There’s a challenge here but the community is behind us and the pupils have already become part of the Dean Trust community.
“We need to stop people in the area getting on a bus and going elsewhere. They wouldn’t do that if there was a great school on the doorstep. It won’t happen overnight but we’ve made massive strides already.”
Mr Kapur said Dean Trust Wigan will adopt the group’s straightforward culture of old-fashioned respect for authority and rules which creates the ideal culture for children to learn and secure top grades.
The pupils will certainly stand out from other Wigan school learners as Mr Kapur sat down with some of the year 10 students to plan the new uniform, which will see the girls wear a unique pinafore-style outfit.
He said: “We are a very traditional organisation. We have high expectations and the children do well.
“Parents want to know a school is somewhere children are safe and encouraged to do their best and where there will be that extra little bit of positive pressure on them. The key to all that is respect.
“Our mission on our website is to get all our schools at least to good from Ofsted. There’s nothing fancy to what we do: it’s good discipline, the right curriculum, great teaching and getting results.
“Along the way we have a bit of fun and make sure children like to come to school and are proud of doing so.”
The ethos is also being taken out to the community, with Mr Kapur already touring the secondary’s feeder primary schools to speak to year fives and their families who will potentially end up as part of the Dean Trust Wigan community in the next couple of years.
Mr Kapur also paid glowing tribute to Mr Bousfield for recognising the school perhaps needed a bit of outside assistance and offering The Dean Trust the chance to support it.
He stressed that the move to a larger group of schools would not mean decisions were no longer taken locally.
He said: “We’re delighted with how Paul has responded. He got the ball rolling and it’s a big leap of faith for a head teacher to say we should work with someone in order to improve ourselves.
“I want to emphasise it is still a local school with the governors in charge, although the nine boards of Dean Trust schools will meet to share good practice. It is really important that governors, who are volunteers, are valued.”
For more information about the school visit www.deantrustwigan.co.uk